Glen Ridge council passes ordinance to ban commercial cannabis businesses from town

GLEN RIDGE, NJ — The Glen Ridge Township Council unanimously passed an ordinance at its April 12 meeting that will ban commercial cannabis businesses from operating in the borough; this decision was made within the 180-day time frame that local municipalities had to make this decision, following Gov. Phil Murphy signing the marijuana legalization law on Feb. 22. The ordinance, which will be reviewed by the Glen Ridge Planning Board before heading back to the council for a final vote, bans the operation of a commercial business in Glen Ridge; it does not ban the use of recreational marijuana.

“It’s really just focusing on cannabis businesses under the law,” Councilwoman Ann Marie Morrow, who is the chairperson of the Planning and Development Committee, said in a phone interview with The Glen Ridge Paper on April 18. “It’s basically the commercial aspects. That’s really the issue for our town, and a lot of other towns. It doesn’t mean it’s a forever ban.”

The state law, known as the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance and Marketplace Modernization Act, established six marketplace classes of licensed cannabis businesses: cultivator, for facilities involved in growing and cultivating cannabis; manufacturer, for facilities involved in the manufacturing, preparation and packaging of cannabis items; wholesaler, for facilities involved in obtaining and selling cannabis items for later resale by other licensees; distributer, for businesses involved in transporting cannabis plants in bulk from one licensed cultivator to another licensed cultivator, or cannabis items in bulk from any type of licensed cannabis business to another; retailer, for locations at which cannabis items and related supplies are sold to consumers; and delivery, for businesses providing courier services for consumer purchases that are fulfilled by a licensed cannabis retailer in order to make deliveries of the purchased items to a consumer.

Municipalities have 180 days to enact a ban if they choose to; otherwise businesses will be permitted to open for five years. Glen Ridge residents can still purchase marijuana and have it delivered to them.

“It keeps our options open,” Morrow said. “We’re a fully built-out, residential town. We have a very small retail commercial section. We don’t have a lot of room, so we want to be thoughtful about it. This gives us the option to think about it.”

Glen Ridge could decide to allow cannabis businesses to operate in the borough in the future, but Morrow said banning them now allows the borough to wait for the state to provide firmer guidance. The state’s legal cannabis industry will be overseen by the five-member Cannabis Regulatory Commission.

“It’s the commercial enterprise,” Morrow said. “So there’s nothing in the opt-out that would ban residents from having it delivered to them. It permits towns to have control while the state works out the framework.”